Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has described reports that President Muhammadu Buhari reneged on earlier acceptance of the N30,000 recommended as the new national minimum wage by the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee as unnecessary.
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In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the presidency said due process would be followed in the implementation of the new minimum wage.
Adesina further explained that what president Buhari committed himself to was a new minimum wage and only after the report of the committee has been reviewed by the executive and legislative processes of government and an appropriate bill presented to him for assent.
Said Adesina: “These reports are contrary to what transpired on Tuesday when the committee presented its report to the president. In his response, President Buhari, while acknowledging the concerns raised by government on affordability and labour’s focus on meaningful increase, stated clearly in a speech, which was made available to the media:
“In a way, both arguments are valid. I want to assure you all that we will immediately put in place the necessary machinery that will close out these open areas.
“Our plan is to transmit an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for passage within the shortest possible time. I am fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future.
“As the executive arm commences its review of your submission, we will continue to engage you all in closing any open areas presented in this report. I, therefore, would like to ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.”
“From the above, and throughout the report-submission ceremony, the president never mentioned any figure… Until the proposed minimum wage has gone through the whole gamut of lawmaking, president Buhari, who is a stickler for due process, will not be caught in this unnecessary web of controversy which amounts to putting the cart before the horse and hair-splitting.
“As for those who have latched onto the concocted controversy to play cheap politics, we appeal to them to remember that elections are not won through loquaciousness, and trying to demean the president at every drop of a hat.
“But, then, it is not surprising, as they have nothing else to sell to Nigerians, if they don’t ride on the name of the president. Stiff judgment awaits them at the polls.”
Meanwhile, the National Industrial Court has chosen January 30, 2019, for the Federal Government and Organised Labour to submit a report of negotiations on disputes over the new minimum wage.
At the resumed hearing in the case before Justice Sanusi Kadoon, in Abuja, yesterday, the National Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum were absent. They were not represented by any counsel, either.
But the federal government and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami – were represented by their legal team led by Mr. Emmanuel Omonowa.
The judge set the new date, to decide whether or not all the parties would have settled amicably or would still be interested in going on with the case.